45-Unit Adaptive Reuse Project Planned for Northern Liberties Church

Immaculate Conception Church
Immaculate Conception Church

Back in April, we told you that developers were seeking a variance to replace Vesper Day Club in Northern Liberties with 20 townhomes. We also told you that the same group planned on building 16 more townhomes to the east of the Vesper site and also owned the historic church next door at Front and Allen Streets. No plans were released for the church at that time.

Well, since our last article, the ZBA granted the development team a variance for the first 20 townhomes and the site has been cleared for construction. It looks like the developers will be going back to the ZBA in January for the next 16 homes. And, now, we have some exciting news to share about the church.

vesper day club demolished
The former Vesper Day Club site cleared for townhouse development

Adaptive reuse plans were presented to the Philadelphia Historical Commission’s Architectural Committee that entail renovating the church, which was built in 1870, and the attached rectory, which was constructed in 1909. The plans call for 45 residential units within the existing structures. Two floors will be added within the envelope of the church. A new synthetic slate roof will be installed on the church along with dormer windows along the base of the roof line. New windows will replace non-original windows and the stained glass windows on the front of the church will be preserved.

adaptive reuse rendering
Rendering of the adaptive reuse project – Toner Architects
adaptive reuse massing
Massing of the adaptive reuse project – Toner Architects
northern liberties rectory
The Rectory
Immaculate Conception Church
Another view of the church

The church and rectory are actually zoned for single family attached homes. However, since the property is designated to the local historic register, the development team should be able to pursue a multifamily adaptive reuse project here by-right. No permits have been issued for the project to date. However, it seems like the Architectural Committee had generally positive feedback for the project team. Hopefully, they will be able to proceed swiftly with their plans and save this distressed building.

We look forward to seeing homes added so close to the Market-Frankford Line and for a long-blighted corner to be re-energized

How do you feel about this plan? Would you like to live in an old church?

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